A Chicago literacy nonprofit is celebrating the expansion of its reach with a new bookstore in Logan Square. Opening the location has been more than a year in the making.
“It’s a really great way to be transported into a new world,” Logan Square resident Finn Holtz said of the bookstore at 2068 N. Milwaukee Ave. “It's nice to take a step back and explore.”
The mission of Open Books is to facilitate access to what the nonprofit describes as the basic building block to life’s success.
“Reading is fundamental,” Open Books executive director Eric Johnson said. “It’s a saying that’s been around for years, I don’t think there’s much else I need to say. … The simplest of ideas: to be able to have access to various spaces, career opportunities, to understand how to fill out a student aid form for college, to be thinking about all of the little places reading and literacy shows up. That’s a huge focal point for us and why we emphasize the necessity of reading at all times.”
Logan Square is Open Books’ third Chicago location. The nonprofit set its sights on the area after learning many of its existing shoppers were commuting from the Northwest Side.
“I’ve always been a fan of the West Loop location and wanted one that was closer to me,” Holtz said. “… It’s my favorite bookstore in Chicago. It’s the only place I get my books.”
Open Books said its donation model allows the organization to offer reads at cheaper rates than bigger bookstores. Despite the growing popularity of e-readers and tablets, Open Books said its intended target audience continues to show up.
“We want people to read however they’re reading — old-fashioned magazines, their tablet, the recipe they’re reading when cooking with their children,” Johnson said. “Wherever people find things to read, we want to encourage those habits, especially at home for kids so they learn about reading and literacy at an early age.”
“Having something more tangible, there's something about it that helps me connect more to it and retain it, rather than looking at a screen,” Logan Square resident Juan Pablo said. “It’s more nostalgic. I used to think it was a punishment as a kid, but now it helps me.”
Open Book also has locations Pilsen and the West Loop. For more information and to donate, visit open-books.org.
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Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.